I’m always talking about my fabric strip collections and the size of the strips I collect. So for fun this week, I decided to search out some traditional blocks from the Ladies’ Arts Company and challenge myself to make them from strips.
Here’s some of my strip bins spread out as I choose strips. Of course, Addie was supervising from her perch on the cutting mat.
My strip collection is made up of 2 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ strips. The blocks I decided to feature are ones that are strips only, a combination of strips and squares cut from strips, and blocks that look a bit more challenging, but the pieces are still cut from strips.
First up, here’s the most simple ones – the “patch” blocks. 4-patch, 9-patch and 16-patch blocks.
You can make these blocks from 1 1/2″ or 2 1/2″ strips, depending on how big you want the block. And if you want to make several at a time, make use of strips sets. A strip set is made when you join 2 or more fabric strips together and then you sub cut them into units. When you stitch these strips together, alternate your sewing direction. That helps limit distortion of the strips and the strip set.
This is what sub cutting looks like with a strip set made up of 2 strips to make 4-patch blocks.
If you are a beginner to quilting, the “patch” blocks are the easiest to master. And you can make some pretty quilts from these blocks alone. Here’s my quilt, Seaside Cottage, that has a center made completely from “patch” blocks that were all made from strip sets.
One of most well known blocks made completely from strips is the Rail Fence. This is another easy to piece block for beginners.
These blocks are fun to make because you can use strip sets or you can use 16 random strips for a really scrappy version. The Rail Fence block got it’s name from the split rail fences common among country roads. We’ve talked before about how women often named blocks after everyday things. This is one of those examples. Other names it’s been known by is Fence Rail, Interlocked Squares and Fence Posts.
Now for one of my favorite blocks. When you combine strips and squares, you start to get some really interesting designs. The most well known of these is the Log Cabin block. This one is the Courthouse Steps version:
Now, here a a couple of interesting strip and square blocks that I have not made before.
The block on the left is called Domino and the one on the right is called Stone Mason’s Puzzle. Very geometric looking! Both of these blocks are made up of four separate units, each of which are made up of strips and squares. Blocks made up of this many pieces can sometimes be off in measurements because of all the seams in each unit. To make sure the block measures correctly when you are finished is to measure the separate units as you go before piecing them into the block. That’s why I keep a small ruler by my sewing machine.
This is a step that you should adopt in your everyday quilting. By measuring the units that make up the block, you avoid a block that measures incorrectly once you piece all the units together. It takes just seconds to do and will save you headaches caused by having to “un-sew” later.
Finally, there’s blocks that use squares to create corners so you can make things like flying geese. Yes, these can be made using your strip supply! The first thing you need to do is master the stitch and flip (also known as folded corners) method. I have done blog posts on this technique in the past and I also have a mini video tutorial showing the steps:
If you follow the tips in the tutorial, these blocks will be very easy for you. The flying geese unit is the most well know made from this method.
Master making these and you can combine them with squares for the Eight-pointed Star block.
Add in more strips and squares and a block like this is created.
Another kind of unit that uses the stitch & flip method is this one:
I’m not sure what others call it, but I call it a cornered square. When making this unit, you start with one large square and four smaller ones. I started with a 2 1/2″ square and four 1 1/2″ squares. It’s important to measure this unit as you add on the corners to make sure it stays measuring 2 1/2″ each time you add a corner (see photos below)
Now you can combine these units to make some interesting designs. Here’s one below where I just changed the tan fabric to a lighter one on some of the corners to make a “secret star” appear.
Now combine the flying geese units, some cornered square units, a few strips and a square and you get this interesting block:
The tan squares and strips make a “wheel” design around the star. In fact, I made a whole quilt out of these blocks called Twilight Desert.
For this quilt above, I also alternated the background of the blocks between tan and a color print to make it more interesting.
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my tips on playing with strips to make some interesting blocks. Have fun in your stash. Here’s Addie who decided to sit on my block samples to make them her own.